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1.  Complete Genome Sequences of Six Chrysodeixis includens Nucleopolyhedrovirus Isolates from Brazil and Guatemala 
Genome Announcements  2016;4(6):e01192-16.
The baculovirus, Chrysodeixis (formerly Pseudoplusia) includens nucleopolyhedrovirus (ChinNPV), is a new Alphabaculovirus pathogenic to Chrysodeixis includens. Here, we report the complete genome sequences of six ChinNPV isolates. The availability of these genome sequences will provide information on ChinNPV molecular genetics, promoting understanding of its pathogenicity, diversity, and evolution.
PMCID: PMC5146431  PMID: 27932639
2.  Root Transcriptome Analysis of Wild Peanut Reveals Candidate Genes for Nematode Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140937.
Wild peanut relatives (Arachis spp.) are genetically diverse and were adapted to a range of environments during the evolution course, constituting an important source of allele diversity for resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The wild diploid A. stenosperma harbors high levels of resistance to a variety of pathogens, including the root-knot nematode (RKN) Meloidogyne arenaria, through the onset of the Hypersensitive Response (HR). In order to identify genes and regulators triggering this defense response, a comprehensive root transcriptome analysis during the first stages of this incompatible interaction was conducted using Illumina Hi-Seq. Overall, eight cDNA libraries were produced generating 28.2 GB, which were de novo assembled into 44,132 contigs and 37,882 loci. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified and clustered according to their expression profile, with the majority being downregulated at 6 DAI, which coincides with the onset of the HR. Amongst these DEGs, 27 were selected for further qRT-PCR validation allowing the identification of nematode-responsive candidate genes that are putatively related to the resistance response. Those candidates are engaged in the salycilic (NBS-LRR, lipocalins, resveratrol synthase) and jasmonic (patatin, allene oxidase cyclase) acids pathways, and also related to hormonal balance (auxin responsive protein, GH3) and cellular plasticity and signaling (tetraspanin, integrin, expansin), with some of them showing contrasting expression behavior between Arachis RKN-resistant and susceptible genotypes. As these candidate genes activate different defensive signaling systems, the genetic (HR) and the induced resistance (IR), their pyramidding in one genotype via molecular breeding or transgenic strategy might contribute to a more durable resistance, thus improving the long-term control of RKN in peanut.
PMCID: PMC4619257  PMID: 26488731
3.  Transcriptome-Based Identification of Highly Similar Odorant-Binding Proteins among Neotropical Stink Bugs and Their Egg Parasitoid 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0132286.
Olfaction plays a fundamental role in insect survival through resource location and intra and interspecific communications. We used RNA-Seq to analyze transcriptomes for odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) from major stink bug pest species in Brazil, Euschistus heros, Chinavia ubica, and Dichelops melacanthus, and from their egg parasitoid, Telenomus podisi. We identified 23 OBPs in E. heros, 25 OBPs in C. ubica, 9 OBPs in D. melacanthus, and 7 OBPs in T. podisi. The deduced amino acid sequences of the full-length OBPs had low intraspecific similarity, but very high similarity between two pairs of OBPs from E. heros and C. ubica (76.4 and 84.0%) and between two pairs of OBPs from the parasitoid and its preferred host E. heros (82.4 and 88.5%), confirmed by a high similarity of their predicted tertiary structures. The similar pairs of OBPs from E. heros and C. ubica may suggest that they have derived from a common ancestor, and retain the same biological function to bind a ligand perceived or produced in both species. The T. podisi OBPs similar to E. heros were not orthologous to any known hymenopteran OBPs, and may have evolved independently and converged to the host OBPs, providing a possible basis for the host location of T. podisi using E. heros semiochemical cues.
PMCID: PMC4498631  PMID: 26161752
4.  Transcriptome Profiling of Wild Arachis from Water-Limited Environments Uncovers Drought Tolerance Candidate Genes 
Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is an important legume cultivated mostly in drought-prone areas where its productivity can be limited by water scarcity. The development of more drought-tolerant varieties is, therefore, a priority for peanut breeding programs worldwide. In contrast to cultivated peanut, wild relatives have a broader genetic diversity and constitute a rich source of resistance/tolerance alleles to biotic and abiotic stresses. The present study takes advantage of this diversity to identify drought-responsive genes by analyzing the expression profile of two wild species, Arachis duranensis and Arachis magna (AA and BB genomes, respectively), in response to progressive water deficit in soil. Data analysis from leaves and roots of A. duranensis (454 sequencing) and A. magna (suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH)) stressed and control complementary DNA (cDNA) libraries revealed several differentially expressed genes in silico, and 44 of them were selected for further validation by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). This allowed the identification of drought-responsive candidate genes, such as Expansin, Nitrilase, NAC, and bZIP transcription factors, displaying significant levels of differential expression during stress imposition in both species. This is the first report on identification of differentially expressed genes under drought stress and recovery in wild Arachis species. The generated transcriptome data, besides being a valuable resource for gene discovery, will allow the characterization of new alleles and development of molecular markers associated with drought responses in peanut. These together constitute important tools for the peanut breeding program and also contribute to a better comprehension of gene modulation in response to water deficit and rehydration.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11105-015-0882-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4695501  PMID: 26752807
SSH libraries; 454 Sequencing; Differential gene expression; Dry-down; Peanut wild relatives; qRT-PCR
5.  The genome sequence of Pseudoplusia includens single nucleopolyhedrovirus and an analysis of p26 gene evolution in the baculoviruses 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):127.
Pseudoplusia includens single nucleopolyhedrovirus (PsinSNPV-IE) is a baculovirus recently identified in our laboratory, with high pathogenicity to the soybean looper, Chrysodeixis includens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) (Walker, 1858). In Brazil, the C. includens caterpillar is an emerging pest and has caused significant losses in soybean and cotton crops. The PsinSNPV genome was determined and the phylogeny of the p26 gene within the family Baculoviridae was investigated.
The complete genome of PsinSNPV was sequenced (Roche 454 GS FLX – Titanium platform), annotated and compared with other Alphabaculoviruses, displaying a genome apparently different from other baculoviruses so far sequenced. The circular double-stranded DNA genome is 139,132 bp in length, with a GC content of 39.3 % and contains 141 open reading frames (ORFs). PsinSNPV possesses the 37 conserved baculovirus core genes, 102 genes found in other baculoviruses and 2 unique ORFs. Two baculovirus repeat ORFs (bro) homologs, bro-a (Psin33) and bro-b (Psin69), were identified and compared with Chrysodeixis chalcites nucleopolyhedrovirus (ChchNPV) and Trichoplusia ni single nucleopolyhedrovirus (TnSNPV) bro genes and showed high similarity, suggesting that these genes may be derived from an ancestor common to these viruses. The homologous repeats (hrs) are absent from the PsinSNPV genome, which is also the case in ChchNPV and TnSNPV. Two p26 gene homologs (p26a and p26b) were found in the PsinSNPV genome. P26 is thought to be required for optimal virion occlusion in the occlusion bodies (OBs), but its function is not well characterized. The P26 phylogenetic tree suggests that this gene was obtained from three independent acquisition events within the Baculoviridae family. The presence of a signal peptide only in the PsinSNPV p26a/ORF-20 homolog indicates distinct function between the two P26 proteins.
PsinSNPV has a genomic sequence apparently different from other baculoviruses sequenced so far. The complete genome sequence of PsinSNPV will provide a valuable resource, contributing to studies on its molecular biology and functional genomics, and will promote the development of this virus as an effective bioinsecticide.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1323-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4346127  PMID: 25765042
6.  Analysis of the leaf transcriptome of Musa acuminata during interaction with Mycosphaerella musicola: gene assembly, annotation and marker development 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:78.
Although banana (Musa sp.) is an important edible crop, contributing towards poverty alleviation and food security, limited transcriptome datasets are available for use in accelerated molecular-based breeding in this genus. 454 GS-FLX Titanium technology was employed to determine the sequence of gene transcripts in genotypes of Musa acuminata ssp. burmannicoides Calcutta 4 and M. acuminata subgroup Cavendish cv. Grande Naine, contrasting in resistance to the fungal pathogen Mycosphaerella musicola, causal organism of Sigatoka leaf spot disease. To enrich for transcripts under biotic stress responses, full length-enriched cDNA libraries were prepared from whole plant leaf materials, both uninfected and artificially challenged with pathogen conidiospores.
The study generated 846,762 high quality sequence reads, with an average length of 334 bp and totalling 283 Mbp. De novo assembly generated 36,384 and 35,269 unigene sequences for M. acuminata Calcutta 4 and Cavendish Grande Naine, respectively. A total of 64.4% of the unigenes were annotated through Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) similarity analyses against public databases.
Assembled sequences were functionally mapped to Gene Ontology (GO) terms, with unigene functions covering a diverse range of molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components. Genes from a number of defense-related pathways were observed in transcripts from each cDNA library. Over 99% of contig unigenes mapped to exon regions in the reference M. acuminata DH Pahang whole genome sequence. A total of 4068 genic-SSR loci were identified in Calcutta 4 and 4095 in Cavendish Grande Naine. A subset of 95 potential defense-related gene-derived simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci were validated for specific amplification and polymorphism across M. acuminata accessions. Fourteen loci were polymorphic, with alleles per polymorphic locus ranging from 3 to 8 and polymorphism information content ranging from 0.34 to 0.82.
A large set of unigenes were characterized in this study for both M. acuminata Calcutta 4 and Cavendish Grande Naine, increasing the number of public domain Musa ESTs. This transcriptome is an invaluable resource for furthering our understanding of biological processes elicited during biotic stresses in Musa. Gene-based markers will facilitate molecular breeding strategies, forming the basis of genetic linkage mapping and analysis of quantitative trait loci.
PMCID: PMC3635893  PMID: 23379821
Musa acuminata; Mycosphaerella musicola; Biotic stress; Transcriptome; 454 pyrosequencing; SSR
8.  Molecular Modelling of the Emergence of Azole Resistance in Mycosphaerella graminicola 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20973.
A structural rationale for recent emergence of azole (imidazole and triazole) resistance associated with CYP51 mutations in the wheat pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola is presented, attained by homology modelling of the wild type protein and 13 variant proteins. The novel molecular models of M. graminicola CYP51 are based on multiple homologues, individually identified for each variant, rather than using a single structural scaffold, providing a robust structure-function rationale for the binding of azoles, including important fungal specific regions for which no structural information is available. The wild type binding pocket reveals specific residues in close proximity to the bound azole molecules that are subject to alteration in the variants. This implicates azole ligands as important agents exerting selection on specific regions bordering the pocket, that become the focus of genetic mutation events, leading to reduced sensitivity to that group of related compounds. Collectively, the models account for several observed functional effects of specific alterations, including loss of triadimenol sensitivity in the Y137F variant, lower sensitivity to tebuconazole of I381V variants and increased resistance to prochloraz of V136A variants. Deletion of Y459 and G460, which brings about removal of that entire section of beta turn from the vicinity of the binding pocket, confers resistance to tebuconazole and epoxiconazole, but sensitivity to prochloraz in variants carrying a combination of A379G I381V ΔY459/G460. Measurements of binding pocket volume proved useful in assessment of scope for general resistance to azoles by virtue of their accommodation without bonding interaction, particularly when combined with analysis of change in positions of key amino acids. It is possible to predict the likely binding orientation of an azole molecule in any of the variant CYPs, providing potential for an in silico screening system and reliable predictive approach to assess the probability of particular variants exhibiting resistance to particular azole fungicides.
PMCID: PMC3124474  PMID: 21738598
9.  Analysis of binding properties and specificity through identification of the interface forming residues (IFR) for serine proteases in silico docked to different inhibitors 
Enzymes belonging to the same super family of proteins in general operate on variety of substrates and are inhibited by wide selection of inhibitors. In this work our main objective was to expand the scope of studies that consider only the catalytic and binding pocket amino acids while analyzing enzyme specificity and instead, include a wider category which we have named the Interface Forming Residues (IFR). We were motivated to identify those amino acids with decreased accessibility to solvent after docking of different types of inhibitors to sub classes of serine proteases and then create a table (matrix) of all amino acid positions at the interface as well as their respective occupancies. Our goal is to establish a platform for analysis of the relationship between IFR characteristics and binding properties/specificity for bi-molecular complexes.
We propose a novel method for describing binding properties and delineating serine proteases specificity by compiling an exhaustive table of interface forming residues (IFR) for serine proteases and their inhibitors. Currently, the Protein Data Bank (PDB) does not contain all the data that our analysis would require. Therefore, an in silico approach was designed for building corresponding complexes
The IFRs are obtained by "rigid body docking" among 70 structurally aligned, sequence wise non-redundant, serine protease structures with 3 inhibitors: bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI), ecotine and ovomucoid third domain inhibitor. The table (matrix) of all amino acid positions at the interface and their respective occupancy is created. We also developed a new computational protocol for predicting IFRs for those complexes which were not deciphered experimentally so far, achieving accuracy of at least 0.97.
The serine proteases interfaces prefer polar (including glycine) residues (with some exceptions). Charged residues were found to be uniquely prevalent at the interfaces between the "miscellaneous-virus" subfamily and the three inhibitors. This prompts speculation about how important this difference in IFR characteristics is for maintaining virulence of those organisms.
Our work here provides a unique tool for both structure/function relationship analysis as well as a compilation of indicators detailing how the specificity of various serine proteases may have been achieved and/or could be altered. It also indicates that the interface forming residues which also determine specificity of serine protease subfamily can not be presented in a canonical way but rather as a matrix of alternative populations of amino acids occupying variety of IFR positions.
PMCID: PMC2974730  PMID: 20961427
10.  Screening non-coding RNAs in transcriptomes from neglected species using PORTRAIT: case study of the pathogenic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:239.
Transcriptome sequences provide a complement to structural genomic information and provide snapshots of an organism's transcriptional profile. Such sequences also represent an alternative method for characterizing neglected species that are not expected to undergo whole-genome sequencing. One difficulty for transcriptome sequencing of these organisms is the low quality of reads and incomplete coverage of transcripts, both of which compromise further bioinformatics analyses. Another complicating factor is the lack of known protein homologs, which frustrates searches against established protein databases. This lack of homologs may be caused by divergence from well-characterized and over-represented model organisms. Another explanation is that non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) may be caught during sequencing. NcRNAs are RNA sequences that, unlike messenger RNAs, do not code for protein products and instead perform unique functions by folding into higher order structural conformations. There is ncRNA screening software available that is specific for transcriptome sequences, but their analyses are optimized for those transcriptomes that are well represented in protein databases, and also assume that input ESTs are full-length and high quality.
We propose an algorithm called PORTRAIT, which is suitable for ncRNA analysis of transcriptomes from poorly characterized species. Sequences are translated by software that is resistant to sequencing errors, and the predicted putative proteins, along with their source transcripts, are evaluated for coding potential by a support vector machine (SVM). Either of two SVM models may be employed: if a putative protein is found, a protein-dependent SVM model is used; if it is not found, a protein-independent SVM model is used instead. Only ab initio features are extracted, so that no homology information is needed. We illustrate the use of PORTRAIT by predicting ncRNAs from the transcriptome of the pathogenic fungus Paracoccidoides brasiliensis and five other related fungi.
PORTRAIT can be integrated into pipelines, and provides a low computational cost solution for ncRNA detection in transcriptome sequencing projects.
PMCID: PMC2731755  PMID: 19653905
11.  Analysis of non-TIR NBS-LRR resistance gene analogs in Musa acuminata Colla: Isolation, RFLP marker development, and physical mapping 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:15.
Many commercial banana varieties lack sources of resistance to pests and diseases, as a consequence of sterility and narrow genetic background. Fertile wild relatives, by contrast, possess greater variability and represent potential sources of disease resistance genes (R-genes). The largest known family of plant R-genes encode proteins with nucleotide-binding site (NBS) and C-terminal leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domains. Conserved motifs in such genes in diverse plant species offer a means for isolation of candidate genes in banana which may be involved in plant defence.
A computational strategy was developed for unbiased conserved motif discovery in NBS and LRR domains in R-genes and homologues in monocotyledonous plant species. Degenerate PCR primers targeting conserved motifs were tested on the wild cultivar Musa acuminata subsp. burmannicoides, var. Calcutta 4, which is resistant to a number of fungal pathogens and nematodes. One hundred and seventy four resistance gene analogs (RGAs) were amplified and assembled into 52 contiguous sequences. Motifs present were typical of the non-TIR NBS-LRR RGA subfamily. A phylogenetic analysis of deduced amino-acid sequences for 33 RGAs with contiguous open reading frames (ORFs), together with RGAs from Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa, grouped most Musa RGAs within monocotyledon-specific clades. RFLP-RGA markers were developed, with 12 displaying distinct polymorphisms in parentals and F1 progeny of a diploid M. acuminata mapping population. Eighty eight BAC clones were identified in M. acuminata Calcutta 4, M. acuminata Grande Naine, and M. balbisiana Pisang Klutuk Wulung BAC libraries when hybridized to two RGA probes. Multiple copy RGAs were common within BAC clones, potentially representing variation reservoirs for evolution of new R-gene specificities.
This is the first large scale analysis of NBS-LRR RGAs in M. acuminata Calcutta 4. Contig sequences were deposited in GenBank and assigned numbers ER935972 – ER936023. RGA sequences and isolated BACs are a valuable resource for R-gene discovery, and in future applications will provide insight into the organization and evolution of NBS-LRR R-genes in the Musa A and B genome. The developed RFLP-RGA markers are applicable for genetic map development and marker assisted selection for defined traits such as pest and disease resistance.
PMCID: PMC2262081  PMID: 18234103
12.  The Diamond STING server 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(Web Server issue):W29-W35.
Diamond STING is a new version of the STING suite of programs for a comprehensive analysis of a relationship between protein sequence, structure, function and stability. We have added a number of new functionalities by both providing more structure parameters to the STING Database and by improving/expanding the interface for enhanced data handling. The integration among the STING components has also been improved. A new key feature is the ability of the STING server to handle local files containing protein structures (either modeled or not yet deposited to the Protein Data Bank) so that they can be used by the principal STING components: JavaProtein Dossier (JPD) and STING Report. The current capabilities of the new STING version and a couple of biologically relevant applications are described here. We have provided an example where Diamond STING identifies the active site amino acids and folding essential amino acids (both previously determined by experiments) by filtering out all but those residues by selecting the numerical values/ranges for a set of corresponding parameters. This is the fundamental step toward a more interesting endeavor—the prediction of such residues. Diamond STING is freely accessible at and .
PMCID: PMC1160158  PMID: 15980473
13.  STING Millennium Suite: integrated software for extensive analyses of 3d structures of proteins and their complexes 
BMC Bioinformatics  2004;5:107.
The integration of many aspects of protein/DNA structure analysis is an important requirement for software products in general area of structural bioinformatics. In fact, there are too few software packages on the internet which can be described as successful in this respect. We might say that what is still missing is publicly available, web based software for interactive analysis of the sequence/structure/function of proteins and their complexes with DNA and ligands. Some of existing software packages do have certain level of integration and do offer analysis of several structure related parameters, however not to the extent generally demanded by a user.
We are reporting here about new Sting Millennium Suite (SMS) version which is fully accessible (including for local files at client end), web based software for molecular structure and sequence/structure/function analysis. The new SMS client version is now operational also on Linux boxes and it works with non-public pdb formatted files (structures not deposited at the RCSB/PDB), eliminating earlier requirement for the registration if SMS components were to be used with user's local files. At the same time the new SMS offers some important additions and improvements such as link to ProTherm as well as significant re-engineering of SMS component ConSSeq. Also, we have added 3 new SMS mirror sites to existing network of global SMS servers: Argentina, Japan and Spain.
SMS is already established software package and many key data base and software servers worldwide, do offer either a link to, or host the SMS. SMS (Sting Millennium Suite) is web-based publicly available software developed to aid researches in their quest for translating information about the structures of macromolecules into knowledge. SMS allows to a user to interactively analyze molecular structures, cross-referencing visualized information with a correlated one, available across the internet. SMS is already used as a didactic tool by some universities. SMS analysis is now possible on Linux OS boxes and with no requirement for registration when using local files.
PMCID: PMC514601  PMID: 15301693
14.  JavaProtein Dossier: a novel web-based data visualization tool for comprehensive analysis of protein structure 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(Web Server issue):W595-W601.
JavaProtein Dossier (JPD) is a new concept, database and visualization tool providing one of the largest collections of the physicochemical parameters describing proteins' structure, stability, function and interaction with other macromolecules. By collecting as many descriptors/parameters as possible within a single database, we can achieve a better use of the available data and information. Furthermore, data grouping allows us to generate different parameters with the potential to provide new insights into the sequence–structure–function relationship. In JPD, residue selection can be performed according to multiple criteria. JPD can simultaneously display and analyze all the physicochemical parameters of any pair of structures, using precalculated structural alignments, allowing direct parameter comparison at corresponding amino acid positions among homologous structures. In order to focus on the physicochemical (and consequently pharmacological) profile of proteins, visualization tools (showing the structure and structural parameters) also had to be optimized. Our response to this challenge was the use of Java technology with its exceptional level of interactivity. JPD is freely accessible (within the Gold Sting Suite) at,, and (Option: JavaProtein Dossier).
PMCID: PMC441618  PMID: 15215458
15.  STING Millennium: a web-based suite of programs for comprehensive and simultaneous analysis of protein structure and sequence 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3386-3392.
STING Millennium Suite (SMS) is a new web-based suite of programs and databases providing visualization and a complex analysis of molecular sequence and structure for the data deposited at the Protein Data Bank (PDB). SMS operates with a collection of both publicly available data (PDB, HSSP, Prosite) and its own data (contacts, interface contacts, surface accessibility). Biologists find SMS useful because it provides a variety of algorithms and validated data, wrapped-up in a user friendly web interface. Using SMS it is now possible to analyze sequence to structure relationships, the quality of the structure, nature and volume of atomic contacts of intra and inter chain type, relative conservation of amino acids at the specific sequence position based on multiple sequence alignment, indications of folding essential residue (FER) based on the relationship of the residue conservation to the intra-chain contacts and Cα–Cα and Cβ–Cβ distance geometry. Specific emphasis in SMS is given to interface forming residues (IFR)—amino acids that define the interactive portion of the protein surfaces. SMS may simultaneously display and analyze previously superimposed structures. PDB updates trigger SMS updates in a synchronized fashion. SMS is freely accessible for public data at, and
PMCID: PMC168984  PMID: 12824333

Results 1-15 (15)